When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries of life disappear and life stands unexplained. Mark Twain
Because I have quite recently needed to examine and understand some of the mysteries and the end of life, this is a quote that was both provocative and inherently true for me. Mr. Twain is speaking of mad as in madness – somewhat out of touch with reality. The acceptance of such a state of being makes it unnecessary to explain some aspects of life.
You might immediately wonder what is good about life remaining unexplained. But the more I think about it, sometimes there simply are no explanations for the many mysteries we find in life.
Why do those who contribute nothing more than anger and insensitivity to life remain on the planet through old age? At the same time, why are the very young stricken with debilitating or devastating health conditions that they have no ability to comprehend? And the answer that Mr. Twain offers is ultimately satisfying if not simplistic. There simply are no answers to many of the questions we pose in our lives.
Does that mean that we stop asking questions because life is ultimately futile? I would say not. If that were the best route, we would have no more scientific research, no more philosophy, and no more space exploration. Consequently, we must strike some form of balance between seeking knowledge and accepting that life sometimes doesn’t make sense.
Remembering that we are all mad is a bit more difficult to explain or justify. Perhaps this is Mark Twain’s suggestion that we all have parts of us that are frivolous. It may also mean that some of our pursuits are either unimportant or impossible to accomplish, causing us to be a bit crazy. No matter what he meant by mad, it is clear that it is not a bad thing. In this case, being so leads to an understanding of the fact that life has mysteries which are no longer important and to which there are no solutions.
It becomes a good idea, then, to accept that our madness results in a happier life. Some questions will never have answers; acceptance of this is then a truth that allows us to continue living. Shalom.